A Time to Pray by Tamasha Tennant
Whenever times were tough for my Grandma, she’d always pray. She’d pray in earnest, with tears streaming down her face. When I was little, I didn’t understand her tears and chalked them up to fear. For years, I thought she was afraid that God wouldn’t answer her prayers, and that’s why she was crying. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I asked her why she cried if she truly believed that God would intervene and help to soothe her worries. She explained that her tears weren’t of fear, but of thanksgiving, because God had never failed her. “Never?” I would push. “Never. Not once. Not even once,” she’d respond.
It would be easy to read this passage and feel overwhelmed by the despair detailed within it. I read it through my Grandma’s eyes. It is actually quite promising.
The writer’s very first words are asking for grace, but not with uncertainty. He doesn’t ask if it’s possible that God might show grace. He doesn’t say, “If You are there, O Lord, show me grace.” He requests that which he knows is available to him. “Be gracious” tells us that he is familiar with God’s grace and expects it again, right now.
The details of life – both the writer’s and our own – are filled with grief and sorrow. He admits to feeling broken and battered by circumstances. Some might wonder why he writes about so many things rather than simply saying that he is in need of grace. I think that’s because he wants to demonstrate that although he’s facing a number of issues, he trusts in God. He declares that “You are my God”, claiming his status as a child of God. He asks for certain deliverance through God’s shining light, and confirms that God’s love is steadfast: “resolute, dutiful, unwavering”. Surrounded by storm and tribulation, what the writer knows – with absolute certainty – is that God is a deliverer, full of grace, and he will be saved.
In my adult life, I’ve found it easy to pray, but not necessarily to believe in my prayers. I pray, and then I meddle with the issue (just in case God doesn’t come through) and then pray some more because I’ve messed it up a little more with my meddling… and then I stress about it, which leads to more meddling…which makes things a little worse…. I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’m challenging myself to really give it to God, and to sit in blessed assurance that His will be done. And I have to admit that so far, no matter the issue, He hasn’t let me down. Turns out that His fixing far surpasses my worrying and meddling.
And that brings tears to my eyes.
Psalm 31: 9-16
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eye wastes away from grief,
my soul and body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my misery,
and my bones waste away.
I am the scorn of all my adversaries,
a horror to my neighbors,
an object of dread to my acquaintances;
those who see me in the street flee from me.
I have passed out of mind like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
For I hear the whispering of many –
terror all around –
as they scheme together against me,
as they plot to take my life.
But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, ‘You are my God.’
My times are in your hand;
deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.
Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your steadfast love.